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J Vector Borne Dis. 2014 Dec;51(4):294-9.

Evaluation of antileishmanial activity and cytotoxicity of the extracts of Berberis vulgaris and Nigella sativa against Leishmania tropica.

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Leishmaniasis Research Center, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran.



Leishmaniasis is a major public health problem, and the alarming spread of parasite resistance underlines the importance of discovering new therapeutic products. The present study aims to investigate the in vitro antileishmanial activity and cytotoxicity of the ethanolic extract of Berberis vulgaris fruits and chloroform extract of Nigella sativa seeds against Leishmania tropica.


In this study, antileishmanial activity of B. vulgaris and N. sativa extracts on promastigote and amastigote stages of L. tropica in comparison to meglumine antimoniate (MA) was evaluated, using MTT assay and macrophage model, respectively. MTT test was also used to assess the cytotoxicity of extracts on murine macrophages. The significance of differences was determined by analysis of variances (ANOVA) and student's t-test using SPSS software.


The results showed that ethanolic extract of B. vulgaris (IC50 4.83 μg/ml) and chloroform extract of N. sativa (IC50 7.83 μg/ml) significantly reduced the viability of promastigotes of L. tropica in comparison to MA (IC50 11.26 μg/ml). Furthermore, extracts of B. vulgaris (IC50 24.03 μg/ml) and N. sativa (IC50 30.21 μg/ml) significantly decreased the growth rate of amastigotes in each macrophage as compared with positive control (p <0.05). Our findings also revealed that extracts of B. vulgaris and N. sativa had no significant cytotoxicity against murine macrophages.


The B. vulgaris and N. sativa extracts exhibited an effective leishmanicidal activity against L. tropica on in vitro model. Further, works are required to evaluate the exact effect of these extracts on Leishmania species using a clinical setting.

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